Abstract

The article presents the development of the House of European History (HEH), a project of the European Parliament which opened in 2017, together with its overall reception, most specifically within Poland. The broader concerns of East Central European countries are examined on the basis of a report published by the Platform of European Memory and Conscience. Finally, the Polish debate on the institution is presented and its significance discussed. Of greatest concern for the commentators are the aspects of the exhibition that pertain to Poland and East Central Europe, especially during World War II and the Cold War. Although positive elements are recognized, such as the fact that in the section on totalitarian regimes Nazi and Stalinist crimes are comparable and the evils of Stalinism are present, Polish critics note the same is not true of communism itself. Some commentators suggest that the HEH exhibition demonstrates Poland lacks an effective historical politics to promote its narrative. An unusual turn in the debate occurred when an official from the European Parliament critiqued a review of the exhibition in a leading opinion-making newspaper demonstrating a paternalistic attitude. It has also been suggested that the lack of sensitivity toward Eastern European historical experience at the HEH exhibition could indicate a partial form of cultural imperialism of the center toward the periphery. At a minimum it demonstrates gross negligence toward a key part of European memory necessary for the union’s fuller self-understanding to further integration on an equal basis.

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